Behind The Mic: Rick Coste
Welcome poddicts to the first official ‘Behind the Mic’ under the FateCrafters banner. It was my distinct pleasure to have a chat this past Monday, with the man behind some of my favorite stories. This prolific writer/producer released his first story ‘The Behemoth’ back in February 2016. Just sixteen months later we are about to see the release of his sixth story ‘Waterguns and Rainbows’, but more on that later.
As you are probably aware from the title of this post, I have been chatting to the one, the only Rick Coste, so without further ado, let’s pick up on the juicy bits.
Let us begin by finding out what are the main influences on your work?
“Two mediums that have had a huge impact and influence on my writing are comics and audio dramas of the past. I fell in love with comics as soon as I could read. Especially Spider-Man. I identified with the character. Here was someone who could never quite get it right but whose heart was always in the right place. Around that same time Marvel collaborated with Power Records to create audio books on 45’s (remember those anyone?). You could follow along with the story visually as well. I listened to those for hours. A short time later my dad told me about radio shows that he listened to when he was a kid. The golden age of radio drama ended a couple of decades before I was born but there was a boom in 70’s and 80s for hobbyists who collected vinyl recordings of shows like The Shadow and Inner Sanctum. I sought those out and spent a lot of allowance money on them.”
There seems to be an ongoing theme throughout your stories that tells of the point where reality and fantasy worlds come together. Where/how did this wonderful idea come to you, and do you plan on exploring this more?
“That’s probably because I lived in a fantasy world as a child. Comics, Universal Monster movies, Sunday night’s, gathering as a family to watch The Wonderful World of Disney... Star Wars… I loved (and yearned for) those fictional worlds. I also started to write a lot. Even back then there was a gray and blurry line between the worlds of fantasy and reality. I especially loved to create characters who were of this world but who suddenly found themselves in one they didn’t understand. I’m sure that’s because of how I felt at the time. I’m still trying to understand the world and in some ways my characters help me to do so as they explore their own.”
All of your main characters have all female. Do you feel it’s easier to write female characters than male? Are there any tricks you use, as a male writer, to get inside the head of that wide variety of female characters?
“Easier? No. But I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters in fiction and comics. Even today, the comics and graphic novels I tend to read feature strong female leads (Paper Girls, Mae, Saga, Snotgirl, Spider-Gwen to name a few). When a new story comes to me it almost always focuses on a female protagonist. Like Madyson in The Behemoth. It would have been a different story had it been a boy instead. Madyson is a complicated character full of strength, confidence, doubt, fear, and courage. I truly love the character. She’s probably my favorite.”
“When a character strikes a chord with me, and it’s usually a female character, I find that the words come easy. It’s a lot like taking dictation when that happens. It can feel like magic at times. There is an exception to that – Charlie’s Mailbox. That story is one I’d been playing with for years and Charlie was always a boy. It started out as a short story, then a play, and then the first few chapters of a novel, but it never felt right. A couple years ago I re-envisioned it as a comic and wrote a one issue treatment, again with Charlie as a boy. It worked as a comic and the funny thing is that I scripted the entire thing with almost no dialogue. It was a very visual story. When I decided to create an audio drama around the story I had to give Charlie a voice (what good would an audio drama be without dialogue – interesting concept though!). The thing is, when I began to write the script, Charlie’s voice came through as a female. I was surprised to be honest – it was a very strange experience. It’s a ‘different’ show and I’m proud that it’s out there.”
What is your production timeline like? How do you do so many different projects, so consistently, so fluidly? How far ahead do you work?
“I learned a lot from The Behemoth. All of my scripts are in final draft before beginning production but with The Behemoth I sent the week’s episode script to Liz (the wonderful voice of Madyson) a week before it was due. I essentially only gave myself four days to edit, mix, etc. I was extremely lucky that I had Liz to work with as the timing never became an issue. After that lesson now make sure that the entire series is at least 90% completed and mixed before releasing the first episode. During the 8-10 week run I’m usually working on the next script (or 2). My trick is I get up early – around 4am every day. This gives me time to write, edit, mix, or whatever the task at hand needs to be. Because I’m always writing I tend to have 2 or 3 shows in final draft well before I even think about casting. At the moment I have shows lined up for the rest of the year. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a new script for a show that won’t be released until 2018, and it will be my first with a writing partner. That’s slowed down a bit recently but only because of a project I’m working on outside of AD (with comic artist Amelia Parris).
Ooh please tell. Like yourself, I’ve been a fan of comics since I was a boy. Stories such as Slaine, Judge Dredd, and Tank Girl were always my favourites from 2000AD. Then I discovered Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Death which got me started with thoughts of writing.
“Amelia and I are at work to create a comic version of The Behemoth. The plan is for it to be a mini-series. I’m hopeful to have more news on that soon.”
You mentioned next year you will be taking on a writing partner, can I ask who that would be?
“That should be interesting since I’ve never worked with someone else when it comes to writing or scripting. The writer is Zachary Fiel. Zach is a close friend and a writer as well. The show is called Carbon Dreams. This will be Zach’s first venture into the world of AD and he has some very cool ideas for the direction of the story.”
Back to the present, what is the next story called, and can you give us a brief synopsis without any spoilers?
“The next show scheduled for release is Waterguns & Rainbows. I like to call it a ‘self-aware’ audio drama and it’s different than anything I’ve ever done is so many way. It breaks the fourth wall at times and is also the first show where the leads were recorded live ‘in the studio’. It’s also the first show to feature both female and male leads. Without giving anything away it’s about two best friends who both happen to be gay and who set out on an adventure to shoot a rainbow with water guns. How’s that for blurring the lines between fantasy and reality?”
What is the release date for your latest story?
“The launch date is 6/5 and I’m releasing all 8 episodes at once. I’ve always stuck to a weekly release schedule but for some reason it feels right to do it all at once. It’ll be an interesting experiment for a lot of reasons, creatively and logistically.”
What made you decide to release all at once, and what do you expect to learn from this experiment?
“The show has been completely mixed for all intents and purposes. I’m putting the finishing touches on it this week. When I listen to it it feels right for it to be released all at once instead of asking the listener to wait week after week for a new episode. As is typical with my shows the episodes are short and I have a feeling many listeners will consume the entire series in one sitting – given they have the time. If not then the next episode is immediately available to them.”
“As far as what I hope to learn – I think I’m more curious as to how it will affect my workflow. I usually have one show going at any given time that is on a weekly schedule to attend to. It might be nice to release the entire thing at once and use that time for promotion instead (a skill I sorely lack). If it goes well I may consider doing the same thing with the next show Izzy. Much like Netflix does with its shows.”
Well I don’t know about you, but I for one am looking forward to this new breaking ground show from Rick, and luckily we don’t have to wait long, as it is released in its entirety tomorrow! (Monday 5th June.)
For more information on ‘Waterguns and Rainbows’, as well as all of Rick’s wonderful stories, simply visit the Modern Audio Drama website.